The leader of Cummins’ Electrified Power business says customers are best served by a company offering a broad portfolio of products so they can choose the power solution that works best for them.
“Different solutions meet different needs,” Julie Furber said March 6 at the Green Truck Summit in Indianapolis. “We believe (offering) a variety of solutions is the way to go.”
The summit was conducted in conjunction with the Work Truck Show, the largest gathering of its kind in North America. Work trucks are commercial vehicles designed for specific jobs such as construction, delivery, tow trucks and snow plows. The summit puts a special focus on environmental issues related to these vehicles, such as alternative power technologies and fuels.
Furber, executive director of Cummins’ Electrified Power segment, said the company’s goal is to be the industry leader in electrified power in every market that Columbus-based Cummins serves. But she also said with advances in clean diesel, the Fortune 200 company expects diesel engines to remain an important power source for years to come, particularly in long-haul trucking.
Natural gas engines and hybrid engines offer enviromental benefits, and Cummins also is exploring possibilities such as fuel cell technology to power data centers, Furber said.
Providing customers with the “right technology at the right time,” is key, she said.
Furber spoke during a panel discussion, “It’s a New Kind of Truck — It’s Not Your Father’s Work Truck Anymore,” devoted to electrification.
She sees electrified power in the work truck industry evolving in three distinct phases:
Where people become familiar with the technology.
Where the technology is increasingly adopted, especially in urban areas where the necessary infrastructure is expected to first develop.
And finally, where electrified power becomes fully viable economically, perhaps following a major technology breakthrough affecting price.
“There will be lots of changes,” Furber said, predicting a path for electrification not unlike the cellphone, developed in the 1970s and early 1980s, which today has an established infrastructure around the world.
Cummins has pledged to have an all-electric powertrain on the market for buses by 2019.
Electrification will have to be a proven technology with established service networks before it sees widespread adoption in the work truck market where customers depend on their vehicles for their livelihood, Furber said.
While the decision to purchase an automobile can be influenced by the heart, she said purchasing a work truck is almost entirely an exercise of the head.